My name was Fatson. Or at least it was to my beloved bullies between 1994 and 2010. I even had my own song. A whole two verses:
On top of Mount Fatson,
All covered in fat,
I shot my poor Fatson,
With a big rubber band.
I shot her with pleasure,
I shot her with pride,
I couldn’t have missed her,
She’s forty foot wide.
Correction: I was one foot wide. And also, if I was so fat, how did I climb to the top of Mount Fatson to give you the opportunity to shoot me with a big rubber band? The facts just don’t add up.
It was traumatic.
It was torturous.
It undoubtedly turned me into the sensitive, socially awkward kid I became. And the ‘please, oh please like me’ teen. Followed by the ‘it’s better to be nice than upset people’ adult.
But hey, I got my own theme song. So that’s something.
Unfortunately, the teasing didn’t stop at the school gate. It often followed me home on the bus. The daughter of a rich family friend sat at the back with her flock and taunted me in their own, superior way.
At home, my older brother and dad had their own ways of knocking me when I was down.
But I’m not here to blame. Merely to paint a picture. To set the scene. It’s all for context, baby.
Because I believe those bullies only made me stronger.
Sure, being bullied also made me sensitive and socially anxious. Example – as a kid, I cried every night watching the news. I just couldn’t accept that bad shit happened. People got hurt. Animals suffered. We died. Our world was doomed. And it wasn’t fair.
Another example – apparently I once ran home in tears. When mum asked what was wrong, I cried, “I’M NOT GOING TO PASS MY FINAL YEAR EXAMS!” I was 10 years old. Talk about anxious!
But that sensitivity also opened my eyes to the world. Helped me see other victims, and do whatever I could to cocoon them. It made me hyper-aware – of people’s feelings, energy, suffering.
And those six years being taunted and teased gave me armour. Made me feel I could survive anything. And even if I couldn’t rely on anyone else, I could depend on myself.
So that’s how I got to here.
Thanks to my bullies, I had the courage to leave my sleepy, cliquey city. To sell my stuff, pack up my life and leave comfort behind. To explore. Write. Wander. Ponder. Meet incredible people with unbelievable stories. Do scary shit.
And even when I was hyperventilating from fear of a social situation, or crying myself to sleep in a lonely hostel bed, I knew it would all be OK. Because I’d been through worse and come out shining.
Bullying is awful. It’s destructive. It’s inexcusable. And it can make someone feel they have nothing left to live for. I will never say bullying is OK. Ever.
But I will say that if, like me, you had a rough childhood. Didn’t feel you belonged. Felt unloved, unwanted, unappreciated. You can turn it around. You can find a way to grow and glow and do great things. Because you ARE worthy. And you ARE loved. And you deserve every sprinkling of sunshine in this life.